Pathfinders spearheading action in 2020

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By Liv Tørres, Director of the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

The first United Nations Secretary-General, Trygve Lie, famously described his post as “the most difficult job in the world.” Never has that been more true or more relevant for all leadership positions in, and working around, the UN. As we approach the UN’s 75th anniversary, we all know that multilateralism is under great pressure. That democratic space itself is under massive stress. That global inequality is increasing. That 5.1 billion people cannot access justice. That close to 500,000 people are killed in violence every year. And that unless we demonstrate urgent action to move things in the right direction, we will have problems spiraling out of control.

Yet, the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies are not inclined to complain, grow discouraged or give up. The Pathfinders are all set to identify results and what works, and to establish alliances and partnerships that promote action on the delivery of the SDGs, thereby contributing to a more peaceful, fair, sustainable and just world. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I am happy to be here at the Center on International Cooperation, and to be able to contribute to delivering the agenda and goals that the Pathfinders have so ambitiously set out. I have seen conflicts and massive humanitarian needs on the ground in many years in the humanitarian sector. I have seen the importance of leadership provided by Nobel Peace Prize laureates in my past few years with the Nobel Peace Center. I have learned the value of fact-finding and knowledge-building in many years in the academic sector. And I have learned the significance of politics through years spent in the field around the world. And I believe that in 2020 there is an urgent need for fact-seeking, results-driven, alliance-ready governments and leaders to spearhead action in the decade ahead.

It will be an interesting, but demanding year. In the area of inequality, government leaders from Ethiopia, Indonesia, Sweden, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone and Tunisia form part of an advisory council which gives political direction to the input, analysis and research provided by experts on inequality and exclusion. The advisory group is to meet before mid-year in Jakarta, Indonesia and later in the year in Addis, Ethiopia. In the coming months, the partnership will produce reports and content that aim to help show: how supporting civil society space can help with efforts to reverse inequality; best practices in progressive taxation; the interlinkages between corruption and inequality; community-driven development approaches to social protection systems; prospects for technology to expand rights and protections for workers and support the creation of decent jobs; and a mind-the-gap index, which asks policy makers to identify opportunities for action to address disparities in cities and work with partner cities to make it context-relevant.

As the inequality gap expands, access to justice and arenas where people can raise their concerns and grievances are critical. The Task Force on Justice delivered its groundbreaking report in 2019, and in early 2020 presented a shared strategy on how to address these challenges. The work of the Task Force and the agenda set forth in the Justice for All report is now being taken forward by key countries and justice partners in this shared strategy aiming to: broaden an alliance of justice partners; increase funding to support people-centered justice; empower people to take advantage of their rights and a focus on specific priority areas such as crime and violence; money and debt; housing and land; access to public services; family disputes; as well as work and business.

Our Grand Challenge on SDG16.1 aims is to reduce violence by fifty per cent by 2030. This is a bold goal, but a feasible one. We will bring together a large coalition of national and city governments, UN and international agencies, NGOs and grassroots groups, as well as businesses — to finalize a strategy and collect data to strengthen the evidence-base for halving global violence. We will be hosting our first retreat for core partners in mid-2020. Before that, we will be preparing studies on projections and the costs of violence, forecasting trends over the next ten years in both a “business-as-usual scenario” and a “fifty per cent reduction in violence” scenario. At the same time, “Peace in Our Cities” is gaining traction with fifteen cities now committed to a halving urban violence through the Peace in Our Cities campaign and the Global Parliament of Mayors. We are also co-organizing events on disarmament and gender in Berlin and planning other events later in the year. We want to encourage governments, business and agencies to come to UNGA in September with concrete commitments to halve global violence by 2030.

Our goal at CIC is to produce analysis, to propose practical policies, and to identify success stories and alliances, which will make it possible for all stakeholders to go forward at the national level and announce transformative actions at the multilateral level. We know that this is not going to be easy. We need to be able to prove that we are making a difference. The Decade of Action is demanding something from each and every one of us. First off, it demands action. We must use the momentum of the UN’s 75th Anniversary to mobilize more action and results. The realities on the ground demand this of us.

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